Rubbish! High Street Chains’ Food Waste Revealed - William Murray

As part of The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not Campaign, a number of quick service restaurants (QSRs) have recently been found severely lacking in their attempts to deal with the mammoth issue of food waste. Out of ten high street names, only three food giants – Pret, KFC and Greggs – were found to be carrying out any major redistribution attempts at all. A surprising number of coffee chains, sandwich shops and fast food restaurants are all failing to prioritise the issue of food waste over the cost of redistribution.

According to food waste experts Wrap, up to 8% of all food-to-go items are chucked out each year, resulting in a massive £277 million dumped straight in the bin. Shockingly, Wrap also estimates that that 78% of wasted food is totally avoidable with proper processes and procedures in place. These include introducing more accurate forecasting and rescuing food from being left on shelves.

Some QSRs have pointed to strict UK laws around food safety as an issue in reducing food wastage. For example, one leading coffee chain is only ‘trialling food redistribution in select stores’ in the UK, but they have plans to donate almost 50 million meals in the US across the next four years. This is thanks to the US Good Samaritan law which effectively lifts any liability for produce away from a business if it’s donated to a charity. This makes redistributing food much simpler and reduces the risk for businesses.

However, despite the difficulty of UK laws and logistics, there has been a boom of apps lately helping to fight the issue of food waste. These range from consumer based platforms Olio and Too Good To Go, to those that are more foodservice focused, such as FoodCloud and Unilever’s Wise up on Waste app.

This year, London Food Month is also attempting to raise awareness of food waste through its partnership with The Felix Project, a charity that collects surplus food from supermarkets, wholesalers, and other suppliers and delivers it to frontline food charities.

As part of London Food Month, there will be a screening of WASTED! The Story of Food Waste at the Curzon Chelsea on the 23rd June, followed by a Q&A with Emmy Award-winning director Anna Chai, Justin Byam-Shaw, the Chairman of The Felix Project, and Patrick Drake, founder and CEO of Hello Fresh. This feature-length documentary will showcase world class chefs helping to ‘highlight how each of us can make small changes’ that can lead to food waste reduction. Let’s hope the QSR industry takes note.

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